Make these sites your favourites
Never go straight to the airlines or a travel agent to check flight prices. Instead, use the leading flight-comparison sites, which pull in prices from all of the big travel agents, tour operators and airlines, including the likes of Ryanair. They compile and compare millions of prices in seconds, so will save you time and money. Better still, they have calendars or bar charts that show how switching by a day or even an airport could save you money. The three best ones are Kayak.co.uk, Momondo.co.uk and Skyscanner.net.
Add in transfer costs
Don’t forget to check out how much it will cost to get to and from from your selected airport before booking as this can make a notable difference to your travel costs. It’s £26 to get from Rome’s Ciampino airport in a taxi, compared to £43 from Fiumicino – plus tips, of course.
Put your flight-search details into the free Hopper app, and it tells you if you should book now or wait to increase your chance of getting the best deal. We checked flights from London to Vienna 5-8 October, it said to wait as prices were likely to fall by around £20 over the next three weeks, but for a trip 7-10 September, it suggested booking now as prices would likely increase by £14 in a matter of days.
Set up fare alerts
Join airline loyalty schemes
Even if you never intend to fly with a given airline again, it’s sometimes worth signing up for its free membership programme. With BA, for example, Executive Club members get free seat selection 24 hours before departure from their very first flight. Sign up to Avios, and you can earn points on flights with Aer Lingus, British Airways, Flybe and Iberia, and before too long, you could have a enough points to redeem against a ‘Reward Saver Flight’ to multiple destinations in Europe, which costs points plus just £35 to cover taxes and fees. Use these in peak season to make the biggest savings.
Sign up for airline newsletters
You’ll be the first in line to hear about sales – which tend to happen in January, spring and autumn – so you can snaffle the lowest prices on the first day.
Published in The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, 2017